ABORT! ABORT! ABORT!
Each time this topic has fluttered close to being brought up, I’ve shut it down. Each time the discussions and opinions have flown back and forth, I’ve steered clear. Each time a friend has expressed an opinion either way, I’ve ducked out of saying anything meaningful, or changed the subject, or been non-committal. Each time, I’ve effectively managed to limit my contact with it to as close to zero as possible. And now I’m taking it on.
A pause; to wrinkle noses, settle the emotional hard-hats, and decide to read forth (or click the red ‘x’ and leave me to it…whichever suits, and believe me, I get it; I’ve done it).
A disclaimer; this is being written as the thoughts rocket around my mind. It’s NOT a manifesto. It’s NOT a completed set of thoughts. It’s NOT (I hope!) preachy. It’s simply me, here, using my own words and your feedback, trying to figure out what I think about this – what I believe at the core. Mostly because it’s a topic which has held me conflicted since I knew it was a thing.
I’ve been brought up to believe that life is a precious sanctity of a thing, not to be taken (or wasted) lightly. I was also raised to believe that taking a life (your own or someone else’s) is completely abhorrent. Culturally, there’s no good answer to ‘when does life begin’, because different cultures across the world bestow ‘humanness/personhood’ (and so worth) at different points on the timeline of a life. Science holds that a fertilised egg is a human being in its earliest form, so I’ve kind of always gone with that; and with that moment comes the bestowing of sanctity and preciousness (to my mind).
As to weighing the value of different lives (good person vs bad; disabled person vs able bodied; employed person vs unemployable; mother vs unborn child)…I strongly believe that each person is a unique, innately valuable individual, just for being them. Their life is worth something (otherwise we wouldn’t sanction the taking of lives, or have laws in place to protect them). Admittedly laws aren’t always right, and the worldwide laws on abortion are conflicting and at best, very messy…but the general spirit of the law is life MATTERS.
[Side notes – I’m glad I don’t have to be the judge of how MUCH someone’s life matters; I also think there’s a difference between valuing each person for their innate humanness (and so worth), and what I/we/society think(s) of the way they behave.]
Consequently my views have mostly been that I think abortion is a horrible thing and shouldn’t be done. Contraception exists, and if accidents happen or people are too careless or hasty to behave responsibly then they should shoulder the consequences. The idea of abortion as a convenient method of dealing with ‘products of conception’ remains utterly reprehensible to me. And there’s always adoption, right?*
What about rape? What about accidents? What about the woman already stretched to breaking point? What about people who really truly know no different? What about COMPASSION, good grief, it’s meant to be one of the things I’m all FOR. But what about compassion for the unborn? It’s not their fault they were conceived – it wasn’t their will that brought them into existence. Now with as little choice in the matter their lives are snuffed out, in some cases due to the inconvenience of their birth and care! What of their option to exist?
I’ve never had a good answer to these kinds of questions. Ever. I’m not sure I still ever will; at least, not a complete answer.
The things I’ve learned over time (and it’s possible I should try to apply them in a more wholesale manner, having learned them in pieces) are these:
- MOST women do not seem to consider abortion unless it’s a last resort kind of thing, and the circumstances which surround the ‘getting to’ that point are usually pretty dire and impossible to manage.
- ALL women lose something when they do it, and this affects them in profoundly different ways.
- Whatever the prospected quality or quantity of that unborn life, it is ended there and then, and this MATTERS.
- The inability to access safe methods of abortion puts the women who seek it, in danger, and THAT MATTERS TOO.
- Being judged and shamed and humiliated when trying to access safe methods of abortion, is HORRIFIC! I can in no way imagine that in these cases, the rent-a-mob who try to bully people away from these services do anything but more damage to a woman in an already terribly vulnerable state**
- There is not, not, NOT enough of a comprehensive curriculum when it comes to sex ed in schools. Or anywhere. I’ve never heard of a programme that goes into the possible emotional/financial/familial/life-impacting consequences of sex.
Added to which, if I consider that there have ALWAYS been people taking each other’s lives in one manner or another, there have probably ALWAYS been (worse, more dangerous) ways for women to dispose of unwanted pregnancies/babies. In fact, in general, historically speaking, women and children have come off worst…all I can conclude is that things need to change.
For the BETTER.
So much for the better. For better education and awareness from a pre-sex age. For better education and awareness for those in a having-sex age. For higher value on life, pre-it, and when it’s here already. For better access to contraception. For better instillation of that worth and value in women and girls so that they don’t end up sleeping with men for the wrong reasons and getting knocked up. For better discussions around this subject and all the offshoots so that clarity can replace taboo, and respect and compassion can replace judgement and ostracisation.
And yes, for better access to safe, clean facilities, with compassionate staff, who can treat a girl/woman with respect and good medical care when she’s come to the point where abortion is what she feels is necessary. And preferably the offer of non-judgemental counselling afterwards, to help her figure out what she feels about it all, and carry on.
Because I’ve never been in the position where I’ve felt I’ve needed an abortion. Because I know and love people who’ve been in that position. Because I suspect lots of women/girls in that position have people who know and love them, and if life is to be lost (and it will be, whether safely or unsafely, whether through her free will or under duress) I would rather there were not Two Lost Children***.
Because as much as I am (and always have been) pro, pro, pro LIFE, I’ve also come to realise that there is no good answer to the subject of abortion, and it’s always going to be awful and agonising and used to fight battles, and in the midst of that there are PEOPLE. Female people. Sisters. Daughters. Friends. Who somehow end up in that end-point of considering…and we who aren’t in their shoes, are left to abandon them or support them as best we can.
They’ve made THEIR choice, whatever the whys and wherefores of it. We can offer our input if they’ll have it, but we don’t have the right or ability to take that choice from them. We CAN help and hope that in that choice, they’re as safe as possible. We CAN take action to make that difference, for love, for compassion, for them.
It also matters to me that if I’m wrong, or if there are ways I’m being utterly ignorant, I get educated and carry on. I’d also like to know if you think I’m on the right track, seeing as so much of my formulation of thought seems to involve input from people in this here Blogosphere I consider very much more evolved in their thinking than I am, so PLEASE do let me know where you stand on this.
P.S. I know it’s a tough subject. I’m sorry if it’s upset you, but not surpised, because it’s an upsetting thing. I hope that whatever’s said can be from a place of reaching understanding rather than reacting from a place of anger.
P.P.S. I *know* I don’t owe anyone my thoughts and didn’t need to write this or indeed share it once I had, but for the reasons stated, it’s helping me form my thoughts on the matter, which are still ‘in progress’. I think ‘in progress’ is a good place and I’m happy to continue progressing.
*The thing with “there’s always adoption” is it’s terrifically, horrifyingly naive to try to suggest it as a simple answer. It’s not. At all. Even. And that’s a whole other kettle of fish, and something I want to write about someday, but not this day.
**There is ONE service I have heard of – Save the Storks – which NON-JUDGEMENTALLY offers women the opportunity to have an ultrasound on one of their vans, prior to seeking an abortion. They also offer transport to hospitals. And support prior to and after the birth. Allegedly a number of women, on seeing their baby alive and kicking, change their minds. I don’t think this is a bully tactic, but perhaps an opportunity to engage with the immenseness of what they’re considering, and in some cases (as I’ve read), the first opportunity for the woman to really understand what’s going on inside her body. Placards of body parts ARE bully tactics, and whilst TRUE, are not KIND or NECESSARY.
***This heartbreaking piece by my friend Mary McLaurine, profoundly influenced my thoughts on abortion, and helped me to crystallise a few of the more ‘pro-choice’ leanings into something which is more of an understanding I am prepared to go with.